Yeast-Free Cashew Parmesan (5 Minutes!)

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Spoonful and jar of Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese made without nutritional yeast

While experimenting with taking yeast out of my diet recently, I found I was without my classic, beloved Vegan Parmesan Cheese.

I like putting cashew parmesan on my favorite meals, like Eggplant Parmesan, roasted vegetables, and pizza. So life just wasn’t the same without it. And I know many of you have been in a similar boat trying to avoid nutritional yeast. So I got to work developing a yeast-free version of the classic recipe.

Tile with ingredients for making yeast-free Vegan Cashew Parmesan cheese

The trick to making major swaps like this is replacing the ingredient with something that tastes similar or reminds your brain of the flavors of the ingredient you’re omitting.

In this case, it’s all about the salt — and adding in some classic Italian herbs and seasonings like garlic, dried basil and oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flake.

Bonus? This recipe requires just 6 ingredients you likely have on hand right now, 5 minutes, and a blender or food processor to make. Shall we?!

Blender filled with cashews and other ingredients for making yeast-free Vegan Parmesan Cheese

This recipe is simply a blend of sea salt, raw cashews (if you’re sensitive to cashews, try a blend of the nuts I recommend in this Cashew-Free version), garlic powder, dried herbs, and a little red pepper flake.

Besides flavor, the other trick to getting it close to “real parmesan” is the texture! I found blending this into a super fine, powdery meal in a small blender was key.

Real parmesan cheese is easily shaken over dishes and almost melts into them, partly because of how light and fluffy it is. This is why I recommend using a small blender as opposed to a food processor, because it’s able to get the texture even more fine.

I took one bite of this “cheese” and was blown away by how close it is to the real thing!

Spoonful of yeast-free Vegan Cashew Parmesan on a blue and white tile

I hope you LOVE this “cheese!” It’s:

Cheesy
Salty
Flavorful
Quick & easy to make
SUPER close to the real thing
& SO delicious

This would make the perfect topper for things like Veggie Pizza, Vegan Meatballs, and Pesto Breadsticks, or for adding to things like Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Pesto!

Into dairy-free cheese? Be sure to check out our Original Cashew Parmesan Cheese, Spicy Pimento Vegan Cheese Ball, Garlic & Herb Vegan Cheese, Probiotic-Cultured Vegan Cheese, 5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso, and Easy Vegan Mozzarella “Cheese!”

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Jar of yeast-free, dairy-free, homemade Parmesan cheese beside ingredients used to make it

Yeast-Free Cashew Parmesan

Crumbly, salty, vegan parmesan cheese made without yeast! Just 5 minutes, 6 ingredients, and a blender required. Incredibly simple and quick to make, and perfect for topping Italian dishes and beyond! 
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Jar of yeast-free Vegan Parmesan Cheese beside cashews and spices to make it
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 16 (1-Tbsp servings)
Course Cheese Alternative
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Weeks

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews (we haven’t tested other nuts, but Brazil nuts and hemp seeds might work)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (you can use fresh herbs, but the "cheese" won't last as long)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil (you can use fresh herbs, but the "cheese" won't last as long)
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flake (omit for less spice, but it does round out the flavor)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a small blender for fine texture, or use a food processor. Mix/pulse until a fine, powdery meal is achieved.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding garlic for depth of flavor, red pepper flake for heat, basil or oregano for richer herb flavor, and salt to taste (you want this pretty salty to mock the "parmesan cheese" flavor).
  • Transfer to container and store in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Lasts for 3-4 weeks refrigerated, or in the freezer for 1 month, sometimes longer. Great for use on top of vegan pizza, breadsticks, pastas, and gratins. It's also a great addition to vegan meatballs!

Video

Notes

*Recipe adapted from my original vegan parmesan cheese recipe.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 16 servings)

Serving: 1 one-tablespoon servings Calories: 46 Carbohydrates: 2.6 g Protein: 1.5 g Fat: 3.5 g Saturated Fat: 0.6 g Sodium: 220 mg Potassium: 57 mg Fiber: 0.3 g Sugar: 0.5 g

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  1. Alessia Diez says

    This recipe is amazing! I’m avoiding nuts so I used a half and half combo of hemp seeds and sunflower seeds instead of the cashews and it came out perfect! I also didn’t have basil but it turned out perfect anyways! 10/10

  2. Jackie Cobbs says

    So good! My 3 year old and I are lactose intolerant, so we really appreciate this recipe. He’s super picky, too, so the fact that he loves it should tell you that this parmesan is amazing! I haven’t had real parmesan in years, but from what I remember, this tastes like the real thing. Also I enjoyed that it was fast to make and could made from simple ingredients on hand.

  3. Lindsey says

    Comes out awesome with Brazil nuts or cashews— the Brazil but version almost tastes bread-crumby because it has a slightly earthier flavor. Both delicious & amp up dishes with flavor. I’ve used it on pizza, pastas etc.

  4. Michael says

    So good! I’ve made it a few times. I’ve upped the salt a little bit, and I’ve been experimenting with smoke. I’ve tried liquid smoke, smoked salt, and paprika. I don’t have a strong favorite yet, but I’m enjoying how the smoke adds a little extra interest.

  5. Eliza says

    Looks quite tasty. This looks more of a cashew nut sprinkle than a cheese and definitely not Parmesan, no wonder the people of Parmesan want to ban anyone else from using the name.

  6. Shari says

    Just found out the through the process of making the nutritional yeast MSG is created! So this is a perfect substitute. Thank you

  7. Andy R. says

    I made this using my old vita mix. Not a good idea. It clumped up. The vita mix started creaming the cashews. I did like the flavor though, although I have no problem with yeast so I’ll probably just go back to that one which is fantastic and I use often. Thank you for that! If you’re looking for a quick vegan meal, Trader Joe’s makes very good frozen vegan meatballs, especially if you heat them slowly in good marinara. Put them on a hero roll and top with this cheese. Really good.

    My question: I have a recipe for risotto that calls for Parmesan mixed in at the end. What do you feel would be the best recipe for the Parmesan to use in this recipe?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Andy, we’re glad you enjoy our recipe! We think either one would be good, but perhaps the original version would be preferred in that recipe since the addition of the herbs in this one might not go with the flavors in the risotto. Hope that helps!

  8. Jule Osten says

    Sooooo good! I haven’t had Parmesan in years so I could cry so happy I am right now. And even my boyfriend who loves the real one is convinced. Thank you!!!!

  9. Dawn Hendrix says

    My husband is yeast intolerant. Finding this recipe is wonderful! I just made it and oh my goodness it is soooo good!!

  10. Katie says

    Hi, I am intolerant to cashew nuts so do you think macadamia nut or walnuts would work for this recipe?? Thanks!

  11. Mary says

    This is one fantastic recipe! I tweaked it a bit and it still came out great. Instead of cashews, I used skinless almonds and instead of garlic powder, I used roasted minced garlic (garlic powder doesn’t agree with us). We put it on our spaghetti and vegan meatballs and it was very delicious. Thank you, Dana, for another keeper recipe!

    • Jen says

      Just FYI, I think people are confused because of the first line, where you state you have been “experimenting with taking yeast out of my diet recently.” Thanks for your great recipes! I’ve been following for years now and have loved so many!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

        Right, thanks for clarifying! I have experimented with taking it out but didn’t find it to make a difference.

  12. Allison Stanley says

    Where did you get that blue triangle design cutting board ? I use your receipes all the time. Soo good!! ????

  13. Nathalie Smekens says

    Oh WoW I have to try this. I’m experimenting with vegan cooking and this seems an easy one!

  14. Kate says

    Why are you cutting out nutritional yeast? I was under the impression that the (organic nutritional yeast with NO folic acid added) was healthful …

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh it is quite healthy for most! Some people just can’t tolerate yeast so I created this recipe!

      • Kate says

        Thanks, Dana! Your recipes are fantastic. I pretty much don’t need cookbooks any longer – have given most of them away – because any recipe I need I can find the best version from Minimalist Baker! I made your garlic aioli (with cashews and garlics and I have forgotten what else – simple ingredients) the other night and it was amazing. Everyone loved it, paired with vegan burgers, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, the works : ) (because I didn’t have any portobello mushrooms on hand). Your emails with new recipes usually result in what’s for dinner tonight for my family :) ps From my own experience eating plant-based/nutrient-dense (lots of cruciferous greens, nuts, beans, seeds, mushrooms, onions, berries, fruit, veg) usually ends up balancing everything perfectly so that there isn’t any issue with “yeast overgrowth” etc – for me and my family plant-based (for most of my life and 5 children) aka vegan = we never, ever get sick, not even a cough or sneeze, year in and year out – no prescriptions, no ailments. Grateful to have learned about the health benefits of nutrient dense, plant-based, foods, no meat, no dairy, no seafood etc. Your recipes just make everything that much more delicious and gourmet (and healthy!)

  15. T says

    Interesting. Aside from being allergic, or just not liking It, can I just know why would one try to remove yeast from one’s diet? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Some people can’t have yeast for various reasons, one major being yeast overgrowth or candida.

    • Nessa says

      Love this recipe and the original. I was out of nutritional yeast and I subbed extra herbs, garlic, dried onion and small amount of dried mustard. I think the mustard really added a depth and a little bit of the pungent flavor that cheese gives! I added a teaspoon or two I believe.

  16. Jane says

    Love your blog and have tried so many of the recipes! (The choc cake is my absolute favorite!)

    Just out of curiosity – why do people avoid nutritional yeast?

    Thanks so much for all inspiration and yummy eats.

    Jane

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Many reasons! We get asked quite frequently how to make “cheese” without nutritional yeast so we created this recipe!

  17. Shannon says

    YAYAY! So glad you are now making recipes without the yeast. Nutritional yeast is a pure form of MSG, which is okay for some people, but for people like me with nervous system sensitivities, it wreaks havoc on my body. I cannot wait to try this recipe!

  18. Ilana says

    Curious, what made you decide to take yeast out of your diet? I do a lot of nutritional yeast, wondering if there is a reason not to!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh, I didn’t! I have played around with adding and removing yeast from my diet but now it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

  19. Toni says

    But…but….BUT!!!

    I LOVE your YEAST vegan parmesan! I mean, two years in, there’s always either a jar of it on my counter or the food processor is being pulled out to refill the empty one…I love it so much I eat it with a spoon….I never could have made the transition off of dairy cheese without it, for which my no-longer-aching knees will forever thank you…loving this new version feels a little like cheating on my husband of 32 years!

    KIDDING, of COURSE. No qualms about adding something this delish to my line-up, especially since both oregano and basil are really thriving in my garden right now…eating the whole batch in a week before the fresh herbs spoil will NOT be a problem!

    Love what you do! The pics are gorgeous too, as always.

  20. Susan says

    Hi Dana, I have made a few of your recipes over the last few years including your vegan Parmesan cheese. I have thought all recipes excellent. I am wondering why you have taken nutritional yeast out of your diet? Is it a personal sensitivity or a health concern we should know. No need for details. I love it and have it sprinkled on food every day! Thank you !!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Susan! We’ve experimented taking yeast out temporarily to see if it was causing any discomfort but that didn’t seem to be the case. However, plenty of readers ask for recipes without nutritional yeast – either because they can’t tolerate it or can’t find it – so this is a recipe is a solution for those issues. Hope you give it a try!

  21. Melina says

    Thank you very much for this recipe! I need to eat yeast free and that means many of the vegan “cheeses” are off limits. I can’t wait to try this!

  22. Kirsten says

    Why are you avoiding yeast (if you don’t mind me asking)? And sorry in advanced if you’ve talked about this before…

  23. Alex says

    I’m genuinely curious, what are the benefits/reasons for cutting out nutritional yeast? (I’ve also been experimenting with cutting various things out of my diet).

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Some people speculate it may contribute to candida / yeast overgrowth in the gut. However, it’s a speculation. Some people just can’t tolerate it, or have trouble finding nutritional yeast at the store, which is why we created this recipe.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Not to our knowledge. We just created this recipe to help people who can’t tolerate or can’t find nutritional yeast at the store.

  24. Mary says

    Thanks for this recipe. Medical medium says nutritional yeast is actually MSG so def want to avoid it from now on.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      We don’t know if that’s true. Nutritional yeast shouldn’t contain MSG unless it’s been added in processing.

  25. Valerie says

    Thanks very much for this! I am fiercely allergic to yeast, including nutritional yeast, and I’ve been intending to invent a yeast-free vegan parmesan cheese. Now I don’t have to! Thank you!!!

  26. Anne says

    Oh good! My fiance hates nutritional yeast, which I don’t understand at all, but glad to have this recipe!